Madagascar Travel Guide

PureTravel Says

"The large island of Madagascar is an adventurers dream . The country offers a variety of outdoor activities for visitors to take part in, spread throughout forests, mountains, beaches and lakes. Madagascar also has a richly diverse wildlife, with many unique species only found on the island. And if this is not enough, the country boasts a rich history deeply rooted in legends of its various ancient tribes."

Madagascar Holiday Highlights

Culture & History - Madagascar’s history is deeply rooted in tribal legends and traditions. Many of these ancient tribes are still living in the country today, where they can be visited and their culture admired.

Nature & Wildlife - Madagascar boasts one of the most diverse nature and wildlife in the world. The island’s rainforests and beaches are home to many rare species of wildlife, many of which can only be found there. In addition, there are many National Parks and reserves that cater to travelers wishing to explore this enormous diversity.

Water Sports - Scuba diving is one of the most popular attractions thanks to the beautiful coral reefs just off the coast. Water-skiing and sailing are also popular events to take part in.

Mountain Activities - Madagascar’s stunning mountain ranges offer a range of wonderful activities. Not only will travelers be able to take in the amazing views, they can also visit one of the many active volcanoes, some of which offer spas to relax in at the end of a tough day.

When To Go

Madagascar has a generally warm climate year round, but due to a heavy rain season in the winter and spring months, it is best to visit from July to September. It is during these months that the island boasts the warmest and driest weather, which makes for perfect weather for water sports and exploring. During the rain season many of the country’s roads are likely to wash out, making it even more convenient to make a trip during the summer.

Top Tips

  • Make sure to contact a professional before attempting scuba diving and other water sports.
  • It may be advisable to take part in an excursion with native trekkers when traveling through the mountains and rainforests.
  • Public transportation often causes frustration, many buses will not move unless at full capacity, so renting a vehicle or walking may be better options.
  • If staying in a village, one should present a gift to the headman as a sign of respect.

Madagascar Holidays In Focus

Culture and History - Madagascar has a wonderful cultural heritage. You can find tribal groups that have been around for 1,000's of years, right through to the days of teh Arabian traders and more recently the French.

Madagascar’s history reaches back to a group of white pygmies known as the Vazimba tribe, which legend says were the first to settle on the island. Today, many of these types of tribes are still in existence, taking up residence throughout the country. One of the largest tribal groups is the Bantu tribe, which lives on the West coast of the island. Yet, in addition to these tribal folk is a new convergence of Polynesians from all over the Malayo-Indonesian archipelago. Indeed, Madagascar gained power due to its close proximity to the Indian Ocean, which made it perfect for the addition of shipping ports.

In recent years, archeologists have recovered artifacts with distinctive Arab characteristics, suggesting that members of those cultures had resided in the country for some time. Also, Madagascar’s history is accelerated as European immigrants flocked to the island in the 17th century.

Madagascar markets are among the liveliest around. They are filled with local foods and spices, as well as arts and crafts made by natives. Toamasina is a great city with a good selection of these markets, including the Bazary Be. The city of Antananarivo is another good market city, namely because of the Zoma Market, which is among the largest in the world. The city is spits into three levels, which adds an even more interesting setup for shopping. The village of Zafimaniny is well known for having authentic foods, and Fianarantsoa is good place to find wine and arts and crafts markets.

Madagascar has many cultural monuments and artifacts for visitors to see. One popular place is the Queen’s Palace, where the Merina Dynasty resided, in Rova where the national monument is located. Ambohimanga, also known as the holy city, is another popular cultural city. Here, visitors can see much of the history of the Madagascar citadel, namely the Merina stronghold, which is a large stone disc that serves as the city gate. The village is also known as “the blue city” because of its amazing views.

One surprising characteristic of Madagascar that some may not expect is the distinctly French flavor of the country. Antananarivo, the country capital, is where most locals speak French and most road signs and shops are in French.

Nature and Wildlife - Madagascar has many natural wonders to offer the visitor. There are many national parks and nature reserves throughout the country that showcase the unique wildlife. In fact, Madagascar boasts hundreds of species of birds, butterflies and other animals, many of them indigenous to the island. And the wildlife isn’t the only natural draw; Madagascar offers numerous beaches, mountain ranges and other peaceful areas that allow for anyone to take in the beauty of the island.

Madagascar offers an extensive network of national parks and nature reserves that are scattered across the island. One of the most popular of these parks is the Tsingy de Bemaraha Strict Nature Reserve, which offers lakes, forests and swamps that are home to many endangered animals and birds. Here, one can also find great rock formations that are great for climbing or just simply appreciating the beauty of the peaks. The Ivolina Zoological Park and Botanical Gardens is a popular attraction that boasts every vegetable species that is found on the island. The Montagne d’Arbre is another great national park that is famous for its abundance of lemurs and rare orchids.

Wildlife watching is one of Madagascars most popular activities and it is easy to see why. Th island teems with live and there are several species of endangered wildlife, mainly birds and lemurs. There are also over 3,000 species of butterflies, many of which are indigenous to the island.

Since Madagascar is one of the largest islands in the world, there are several natural wonders there. The island is known for its golden beaches flanked with beautiful palm trees. The country’s beaches are separated into forested areas and savannah covered areas, offering a good diversity for visitors to choose from. Also, many of the beaches are surrounded by mountains, which offers a cooler climate and even better views. The Antseranana is a popular seaport that also offers waterfalls, lakes and grottoes. Grottoes are also popular in Anjohibe. Other popular beach areas include Nossi Mitsio, Nossi Bé, Tanikely and Nossi Radama.

Unfortunately, many travelers miss Madagascars other attractions. Madagascar has a number of mountainous areas that include volcanoes. One popular volcanic region is Perinet that doubles as a nature reserve where many lemurs and interesting species of flowers can be found. Ampefy is another volcanic area, which includes waterfalls and geysers.

Water Sports and Mountain Activities - Thanks to its beautiful beaches and mountain ranges, Madagascar is the perfect place for these activities. The many lakes and access to the ocean makes it perfect for water-skiing and sailing. The mountains also offer great water sports thanks to the many waterfalls and lakes that are often found there. Mountain climbing is also a popular activity.

One of the best places to enjoy water sports is at one of the main sea centers such as Nossi Lava, Toliara, Nossi Bé and Ile Ste-Marie. At any of these areas, diving and scuba diving are the most popular attractions due to the deep waters and plentiful coral reefs. Travel over to Ambohibao or Antsiralse and try out waterskiing or sailing in one of the popular lakes. River rafting is also popular and can be done in many of these same areas.

The mountains of Madagascar are another popular attraction for thrill seekers. Both Tsiafajovona and Antsirabe are great mountainous areas that both offer thermal spas and crater lakes for visitors to explore. The Hauts Plateaux offers great views over the island and is a great place to hike. Also, Tsarantanana, the island’s highest mountain, is one of the best places to check out rainforests and trek.

Classic Itineraries

  • Visit the eerie area of Amabalavao, also known as the home of the departed, where visitors can check out the remains of Madagascar ancestors as well as see where silk and paper are made on the island.
  • Go to Ambohibao and try out boat riding and water skiing tours.
  • Wildlife tour: Unique flora and fauna in unique landscapes.


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